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XR-1

Anigrand Craftswork 1/72 Platt LePage XR-1A Build Review

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review August 2006 Manufacturer Anigrand Craftswork
Subject Platt LePage XR-1A Scale 1/72
Kit Number 2062 Primary Media Resin, Vac
Pros Resin pieces fit together VERY nicely, closest thing to a resin snap-tite kit you'll find! Cons See text
Skill Level Intermediate MSRP (USD) $38.00

Background

In 1937, two engineers, Laurence LePage and Haviland Platt, traveled to Germany to view the Focke Fa 61 tandem-rotor helicopter. There they obtained an option to build the Focke helicopter in U.S., but deteriorating conditions between two governments prevented the deal from going through.

After returning to the U.S., they formed Platt LePage Aircraft Co. and started to develop their own tandem-rotor design, the PL-1. This new aircraft interested in the USAAF, which advised Platt LaPage to enter a military helicopter competition. The PL-1 was redesigned to meet military needs and was given the new rotary wing category's first designation, XR-1.

The first flight of the XR-1 was made in 1941. Control system problems caused numerous delays. Modifications were made and a second prototype, the XR-1A, was constructed. Its performance proved to be far superior to the XR-1. However, in 1944, the Sikorsky XR-4 was named the winner of the USAAF helicopter competition. USAAF cancelled all contracts with Platt LePage, which resulted in the company's closing. Platt LePage subsequently sold their twin rotor design to McDonnell, resulting in the XHJD-1 Whirlaway.

The Kit

For a look at the kit, check out our review here.

Getting Started

XR-1A There I was, all set to tear into a special project when I discovered that one essential kit was missing and the aftermarket interior I was planning to use on another kit wasn't going to work. I wisely tabled that project and pondered this new kit from Anigrand Craftworks. It looked like an easy build so I decided to give it a test-flight.

The resin fuselage halves were assembled using cyano after cleaning up the mating surfaces from the remaining mold stubs. The nice thing about this line of resin kits over others is that you get the parts without those huge molding blocks. You just clean-up the stubs where the resin was injected, much like you would clean up the stubs left over from removing a part from a styrene tree.

The wings/rotor booms have locator pins that align perfectly to the fuselage and these went on with no filler required. There was a bubble at the end of one boom that required filling, but that is normal on resin kits. A drop of cyano, a drop of accelerator, and a trip to the sink to wet-sand the results flush. Do be careful using cyano as a filler as it dries harder than the surrounding resin. You could inadvertently remove too much surrounding resin in the process of cleaning up a fill job.

XR-1A The vertical stab and horizontal stabs are slotted to slide together. I used a touch of Mr. Dissolved Putty to fill in a slight gap at the joint. The vertical stab also has locator pins that plug into the fuselage. This kit goes together nicely!

While this is all drying, I decided to tackle that canopy. The canopy consists of an upper, lower, and front cap. There are two front caps provided, one for the XR-1 and the other for the XR-1A. I opted to do the second aircraft. I carefully cut out the canopy parts from the vacuforms and did a little test-fitting to see how all of this was supposed to go together. Once I had everything trimmed up, I assembled the canopy using watch crystal cement. It is tougher than white glue and more flexible that cyano, nor does it cloud the canopy - it dries crystal clear.

The landing gear goes on next. It was time for the interior. This consists of two seats, one instrument panel, a control stick, and the floor frame. I used cyano to assemble all of this, then painted the assembly with interior green. I painted the rear cockpit bulkhead on the fuselage front interior green as well.

XR-1A I applied Tamiya Olive Green upper and Medium Gray lower surfaces to the fuselage. When this dried, I hand painted the motor mounts and landing gear struts dark aluminum. The exhaust stack was painted rust and installed in the trough along the top of the fuselage. The wheels were painted black and installed on their axles. The interior assembly was added to the front of the fuselage.

The canopy was flexible and workable. I masked the horizontal frames and painted interior green followed by the appropriate upper or lower color. The vertical frames were hand-painted and I won't do that again.

The completed canopy was attached to the fuselage using more watch crystal cement. Time for the decals.

The decals went down with no silvering or other problems. I did opt to use Solvaset to ensure a good bond.

XR-1A The final step was the two rotor heads. The blades are molded in to sit nicely in the rotor heads, but beware that half the blades are clockwise rotation and four rotate counter-clockwise. Get the right rotor on the right head. I placed the shaft at the bottom of the rotor head into a small clamp to get a good height above the working surface. I laid all three blades into place, then applied thin cyano to run over all three blade shaft joints. This was followed by a drop of cyano accelerator and it was all over. I had the right droop in the blades and a solid assembly to boot. I repeated the process for the other rotor head and then sprayed both assemblies black.

I did not use cyano to mount the rotor heads, there are holes in the top of the boom ends for the rotor heads and you'll want to leave yours loose for transport.

Conclusion

This was indeed an easy build and I can recommend one of these kits to anyone wanting to learn how to work with resin kits. These are about as close to a resin snap-tite kit as you're going to get, but you still need to have the right tools and adhesives to work with resin and vac parts.

My sincere thanks to the US importer, Nostalgic Plastic for this review sample!

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